Life | The green knot

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The green knot
Text by Sitanshi Talati-Parikh and Supriya Nair
Published: Volume 17, Issue 11, November, 2009

Journalist Sharin Wader and founder Kishore Butani plan to have what they call ‘India’s first carbon neutral wedding’. Sitanshi Talati-Parikh asks them what it means to stay eco-friendly in a carbon-explosive environment

What’s a carbon footprint and what’s the coolest way to keep the earth from global warming?
The total carbon emissions released as a result of the amount of electricity your home/business consumes right down to your car and business travel is your carbon footprint. Carbon emissions cause global warming. The first step is to find out how much carbon dioxide you put in the air per year. Those that can reduce their emissions should do whatever they can, like walk to work, travel less by air, set up windmills, use solar heaters.... Those that cannot, could buy carbon credits.

How does one buy carbon credits and what happens once you buy them?
Buying carbon credits is a market-based trading platform to make polluters pay for releasing carbon dioxide. One ton of reduced carbon dioxide in emissions equals one carbon credit. Carbon credits are linked to green projects. If I have a windmill in Satara or Karnataka I can earn 2000 carbon credits per year per mega watt capacity. Eventually, the price of carbon credits will get so high that polluters will either shut shop or invest massively in green projects, and that is the key to fighting global warming.

Is it better to be eco-friendly (recycled paper, organic foods et cetera) or just chuck all that and buy carbon credits?
The mantra is to reduce energy consumption wherever you can, but that is easier said than done. Can we ask people to walk to work? Or use their washing machines at 9 p.m. only? Is there any point switching off your lights for one hour in a year? Using recycled paper and organic food is only a marketing mantra and designed for sustainability and CSR initiatives, not global warming per se. The current answer is to use diesel generators as a power back up, the smart answer would be to use solar panels with a combination of windmills for all energy needs if you can afford it.

We cannot ask our wedding guests to not use their cars but walk or cycle to our wedding. They will inevitably emit carbon dioxide into the air. Plus there will be electricity usage from guests staying in hotels, the band performing and the dinner proceedings. If our wedding is going to responsible for putting carbon dioxide into the air, then it’s our duty to mitigate the same, after all our wedding should not be responsible for global warming! It would be selfish and ignorant to think otherwise. If I know my wedding will emit 40 tons of carbon dioxide, I’m going to buy 40 carbon credits sourced from a windmill or another renewable project which has not used coal.

In fact, it will be more fun than any other wedding since my guests won’t be guilty of contributing to global warming.... They can dance guilt free!


Change your bulbs to CFLs

Walk or bike

Install solar water heaters and rooftop windmills in your farm houses

Have carbon-neutral parties/ events

Calculate your yearly carbon emissions with an online carbon footprint calculator, then buy an equal amount of carbon credits to offset the same emissions. (The current price is between Rs 100-200 per credit being supplied to polluters in the US. The credits supplied to Europe are more expensive.)


A new world

A 2008 poll on environmental awareness conducted across Indian cities threw up a pointed result: Indians rated the environment as their second-biggest concern, below inflation but higher than corruption, unemployment or lawlessness. It demonstrates the high level of awareness about losing touch with a way of life that has generally respected natural and social resources. As we attempt to stay in touch with our eco-conscious roots, we also join the swelling global forum that attempts to bring green culture, design and politics into the mainstream. We recommend the best e-reads on green living.

In India
Green Light Dhaba ( This new, wonderfully-written blog devotes a third or so of its content to sustainable living in India, and how it ties up with our larger social quest for justice and respect. From tongue-in-cheek treatises on the benefits of ceiling fans, to guest critiques of books and film on climate change, this one has it all.
India Together/Environment ( This alternative news site offers a crisp and valuable focus on Indian news directly impacting our eco-systems. If you always wanted to know what was going on in the world of environmental activism in India but were afraid to ask, or need the latest reports on eco-legislation or research simplified, look no further.

Around The World
Treehugger ( The Internet’s #1 site for cutting-edge writing and thinking on the environment.
Ecogeek ( The tagline reads ‘brains for the earth,’ and this seriously cool blog showcases out-of-the-box thinking on sustainable tech, design and lifestyle.
Sustainablog ( Serious writing on eco-business and politics, this blog offers both micro and macro perspectives on world-changing environmental issues.
Worldchanging ( Journalism that is focussed on finding the right solutions to the challenges of sustainable living.
How To Save The World ( Writing from Dave Pollard on environmental philosophy, creativity, and making the world a better place.
GoodGuide ( An extremely useful guide to products and lifestyles that are healthy, green and good for the planet.

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